On Sunday the Kansas City Chiefs will take on the Houston Texans in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. Chiefs’ fans should not be worried about this game at all. Before you click away or call me some crazy homer, give me have a few paragraphs to explain myself.
Let’s start by getting the elephant out of the room, yes, I am aware of the franchise’s history in the playoffs. Inside the friendly confines of Arrowhead Stadium, the Chiefs have an abysmal 3-7 record and have lost games every way possible. We all remember the Steelers not scoring a touchdown, the no punt game, the kicker who shall not be named, forward progress and last year’s off-sides game. I can understand if you are skeptical of my no worry philosophy this week based on that history.
The problem for people who are losing sleep over this game is that history is the only excuse you have to be worried. Everything else associated with this game points squarely in the direction of a Chiefs win.
The injury report is a place to start that has been a negative for the Chiefs all season. This week, that advantage has changed as the Chiefs are the healthiest they have been since the pre-season and far healthier than the week six matchup against the Texans. Travis Kelce is said to have a bruised knee that shouldn’t affect him much and Chris Jones is a game-time decision as of now. As sad as it is to say, that is still the cleanest injury report the Chiefs have had in months.
The Texans, on the other hand, have an extensive injury list including two of their most important players in J.J. Watt and Will Fuller. Watt is playing two months after tearing his pectoral muscle, an injury that normally ends a player’s season (see Alex Okafor and Emmanuel Ogbah). Watt did return last week and will play this week, but his snaps will be limited, and he is nowhere near 100%. Fuller, who is often injured, missed the last two weeks with a groin injury in week 16. Fuller is expected to play, but like Watt, he will be on a snap limit and is at high risk to reinjure the groin.
When you look at the different position matchups, the Chiefs win on every level of the field. Deshaun Watson is a solid quarterback, but Patrick Mahomes is the better quarterback. Mahomes is more accurate, more consistent, and takes fewer sacks than Watson. Like the quarterback the skill position is close, but the edge goes to the Chiefs. Deandre Hopkins and Tyreek Hill cancel each other out, from there it all goes towards the Chiefs with Damien Williams, Travis Kelce and Mecole Hardman being superior to Carlos Hyde, Darren Fells, and a hobbled Will Fuller.
The defensive side of the ball is a complete mismatch when you compare the two teams. Watt is normally the best play on the field when comparing any defense, but with his injury, the Chiefs have all the star power. Chris Jones, Tyrann Mathieu, and Frank Clark are better than anything else the Texans have on defense. Their front four, while solid, isn’t to the Chiefs level and the secondary of the Texans is bad while the Chiefs is near the top of the league.
While the Texans have a few big names like Watson, Hopkins, and Watt, the roster doesn’t stack up to the Chiefs. If the roster looks one-sided, the coaching is so far apart we may as well be comparing planets. Those of you who have followed my writing career know I’m not the biggest Andy Reid fan in Kansas City. But there is no denying his resume, especially when coming off a bye week where he’s 18-3. On the other side of the field, you have Bill O’Brien.
O’Brien isn’t the worst coach in the NFL, but he has been in that discussion before. With the talent the Texans have had under O’Brien’s tenure it’s hard to think he’s anything but a bad coach with the lack of success they’ve had. He’s more of a read and reacts style head coach that starts slow and then adjusts, which is the opposite of Andy who scripts his first 15 plays and wants to get out early. The first matchup between these two contrasting styles led to an early 17-3 Chiefs lead, a recipe that is likely to repeat itself on Sunday.
Speaking of that first matchup nearly three months ago, a big question in the media all week has been “how much can you take away from that week six matchup”? The answer is, not much. Both teams had injuries with the Chiefs being down five starters plus a hobbled Mahomes. There were fluke plays and bad calls that favored the Texans side; no, they weren’t all against the Chiefs. Even with all that, the Texans only won by one score late in perfect weather.
Take all of that into consideration and realize what’s happening on Sunday. A dome football team, coached by O’Brien, with a roster of no-names outside of a couple greats is coming to Kansas City. Awaiting them is the loudest outdoor stadium in the world a day removed from an ice/snow storm and near-freezing temperatures. A team coached by Reid with a top offense and defense the healthiest they’ve been all season with payback on their mind.
After reading all of this I am sure a lot of you are still thinking of every wild way possible the Chiefs could lose Sunday, after all, “any given Sunday” right? Take my advice and shove all those wild ideas away. Look at the game logically and see just how lopsided the matchup really is. Then head to the stadium or get comfortable on your couch and kick your feet up and relax. Know that even if the Texans score first, it’s ok. Watch the entire game not hoping we win, but knowing we are going to win. Your blood pressure will thank me.